Researchers at the Center for Evidence-Based Mentoring have conducted a series of meta-analyses in recent years that have advanced our understanding of youth mentoring and the conditions under which it is most effective. Meta-analysis combines the results of multiple individual evaluations in ways that can produce more reliable and precise impact estimates and permit comparisons across approaches and characteristics.

Some of these meta-analyses have focused on specific subsets of youth. For example, we have conducted meta-analyses of youth in the foster care system. We have also looked at mentoring across settings and approaches. We recently published the first-ever meta-analyses of cross-age peer mentoring and youth-initiated mentoring approaches, and have studies of group mentoring and after-school programs underway. Also underway are meta-analyses technology-delivered interventions and a systematic review of supportive accountability.

We have also taken a broader look at the field. Most notably—a 2019 meta-analysis of 70 intergenerational, one-on-one mentoring program evaluations that were conducted from 1975 through 2017. This represented more than 25,000 youth once again showed that mentoring yielded a range of significant, but overall small, effects. The findings were, in fact, remarkably consistent with past comprehensive meta-analyses of youth mentoring, despite the inclusion of more recent evaluations and despite steady investments in research to improve program design.

A recent meta-analysis of these data revealed that targeted mentoring programs produced average effect sizes that were more than double those of nonspecific programs and were significantly more effective in improving school, psychological, and social functioning.  Thus, overall effect sizes in meta-analyses are likely being skewed by the relatively smaller number of targeted programs (serving far fewer youth) that are included in the analyses.

Related Publications

Burton, S., Raposa, E.B., Poon, C.Y., Stams, G, Rhodes, J. (2021). Cross-age peer mentoring for youth. A meta-analysis. American Journal of Community Psychology, 1-17.[PDF]

Poon, C. Y. S., Christensen, K. M., & Rhodes, J. E. (2021). A meta-analysis of the effects of mentoring on youth in foster care. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. [PDF]

Van Dam, L., Blom, D., Esma, K., Assink, M., Stams, G-J., Schwartz, S., & Rhodes, J. (2020). Youth initiated mentoring: A meta-analytic study of a hybrid approach to youth mentoring. Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

Christensen, K., Hagler, M., Raposa, M., Stams, G. J., & Rhodes, J. (2020). “Non-specific versus targeted approaches to youth mentoring: A follow-up meta-analysis” Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 49:959–972. [PDF]

Raposa, E. B., Rhodes, J., Stams, G.J., Card, N., Burton, S., Schwartz, S., Sykes, L.Y., Kanchewa, S., Kupersmidt, J., and Hussain, S. (2019). The effects of youth mentoring programs: A meta-analysis of outcome studies. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. [PDF]

Van Dam, L., Smit, D., Wildschut, B., Branje, S. J. T., Rhodes, J. E., Assink, M., & Stams, G.J.J. M. (2018). Does Natural Mentoring Matter? A Multilevel Meta‐analysis on the Association Between Natural Mentoring and Youth Outcomes. American Journal of Community Psychology, [PDF]

Chan, C. & Rhodes, J. E. (2014). Measuring exposure in Hurricane Katrina: A meta-analysis and an integrative data analysis. PLOS ONE, 9(14), 1-15. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0092899.[ PDF ]